The Retreat House

  What is a Cursillo
Movement Background
The Weekend
After the Weekend
Local Ultreyas
Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son

What is a Cursillo?

To explain Cursillo to someone who has never experienced Cursillo is at best, difficult. Often, for those who have experienced Cursillo it is still somewhat mystifying. This is not because the Cursillo Movement is a "secret" organization. The reason behind the mystery is God. No one can fully explain how God touches each person in His special / unique way throughout the various elements of the Cursillo Movement.

Cursillo (pronounced kur-see-yo) is a Spanish word meaning a short course. It is an abbreviated form of Cursillo de Cristiandad (short course to prepare Christians). It is not a theoretical course, nor is it a retreat. It is first and foremost an experience. It must be lived. It is a life-changing experience, which brings with it the discovery of the basis of Christianity and its fundamental significance to our lives.

Movement Background

The first stirrings of what later was to become the Cursillo Movement began on the Island of Majorca during World War II. The Spanish Civil War had ended in 1939, and the years after the Civil War were a time of ferment in the Spanish Church. Before the war, a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James at Compostela had been planned. After being postponed several times by the disruption of war, it was finally rescheduled for 1948.

At first, the Cursillo's were just "little courses" (little course is the literal meaning of the Spanish word - Cursillo) which were given by the diocesan council of the young men's branch of Catholic Action. They were given to members of Catholic Action groups as a way of forming them so they could become effective apostles.

In 1959, the Cursillo spread throughout Texas and to Phoenix, Arizona. In August of that year the first national convention of spiritual directors was held, and Ultreya magazine began publication. In 1960, the growth of the Cursillo quickened in the Southwest, and weekends were held for the first time in the East in New York City and Lorain, Ohio.

Until 1961, all weekends were held in Spanish. That year the first English-speaking weekend was held in San Angelo, Texas. Also in 1961, first weekends were held in San Francisco, California; Gary, Indiana; Lansing, Michigan; and Gallup, New Mexico. By 1962, twenty-five more English-speaking weekends had been held. Today, it is a worldwide movement with centres in nearly all South and Central American countries, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and in several African countries.

The Weekend

The Cursillo experience begins with a weekend course in basic Christianity. The three-day course gives the participant practical insights into the everyday life of faith and service. The weekend is a back-to-basics experience which often deepens and rounds out what one has learned about Christ earlier in life. The program begins on Thursday evening and concludes on Sunday evening.

The weekend is led by a team of lay volunteers and clergy. They prepare extensively for this three-day course in basic Christianity. As one might expect, there are talks on various religious topics, and each talk is followed by a discussion. Mass is celebrated each day, and there is an opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation. Morning and evening prayer, as well as a few devotions, are part of the schedule. Meals are hearty, and there are regular breaks in the schedule.

Hundreds of thousands of American Catholics have lived Cursillo, so that a deep pool of people is available to support one another.

After the Weekend

Follow-through is essential to living the Cursillo experience successfully. After the weekend, there will be opportunities to meet and pray with others, in order to consolidate what was developed during the three days at the retreat house. The follow-up program is explained in detail during the weekend. The retreat house staff and the Cursillo team, along with the sponsors, aid the candidates in connecting with other Cursillistas (those who have lived the Cursillo).


The candidate should be at least 25 years of age. While there is no upper age limit, keep in mind the schedule is physically challenging and the candidate must be able to participate in the entire weekend. The Cursillo aims at a mature living of the Christian life. The schedule is a full and demanding one which requires good health and stamina. There are separate weekends for men and women. Non-Catholics are also eligible, although Protestant versions of the Cursillo are available in eastern Massachusetts.
The Cursillo weekend is a learning experience more than a retreat. It is a busy and active time. It is not geared for serious counseling or for therapy. As a result, we discourage people who are heavily burdened by personal and emotional problems from attending. Other programs exist to meet such needs. In addition, those in recovery from substance abuse should be pursuing the spirituality that forms the basis of the twelve-step program. The candidate must be available for the entire Cursillo experience and cannot be excused to attend outside events, i.e., family functions, business meetings, etc.


A person applies for a Cursillo by way of a sponsor -- a friend or acquaintance who has lived the Cursillo and continues to be active in the Movement.  Many parishes and recovery communities have Cursillo contact people.  If you need assistance with a sponsor, contact the retreat house. There are forms for the candidate and the sponsor.  Space is limited at the retreat house, so only a certain number of applicants can be accepted.  Well before the weekend, applications are confirmed by mail.  The cost of the weekend (including three nights and nine meals) is very reasonable. $150


Rainbow of colors


October 18-21, 2018  
November 15-18, 2018
January 24-27, 2019
February 21-24, 2019
March 28-31, 2019
 April 25-28, 2019



The word 'ultreya' is a Spanish word meaning 'onward', or 'let's go'. It is a cry of encouragement for Cursillistas to persevere on their Fourth Day journey. We come to an Ultreya to share our Christian walk with each other, and in so doing, we each come away renewed in our quest to 'walk the talk'. Simply put, an Ultreya is the coming together of the Cursillo community to share their piety, study, and action with each other.
Listings for Southeastern Massachusetts
Town Date Time Location
Brockton Last Friday of Month   St. Edith Stein Parish
Dartmouth Last Tuesday of

St. Mary's
South Dartmouth

Dedham 4th Tuesday 7:30 PM St. Mary's
420 High Street
East Bridgewater 2nd Tuesday of Month
7:00PM St John's, 210 Central St, East Bridgewater
Nancy Smith
Hingham 3rd Friday 7:30 PM Glastonbury Abbey Center
Middleboro 3rd Tuesday 7:00PM Sacred Heart Parish Hall, 53 Oak Street
Milton / Quincy
So. Boston
varies varies

St Agatha Parish, Milton

Plymouth Sunday, September 23
Sunday, October 28

5:00 PM

St Kateri Parish
John & Patty Deangelo

Randolph Avon
4th Friday 7:00 PM

Saint Mary's
211 North Main Street

Rockland 2nd Friday  

Holy Family
403 Union St

West Harwich

1st Sunday of month following 5:30PM Liturgy


Holy Trinity Parish

246 Route 28 W. Harwich

Pat Cole 508-398-2684

Click here to visit the Boston Cursillo web site for additional Ultreya listings.....